Gentrification and Seattle’s Capitol Hill

Seattleites, lets finally have that conversation surrounding our beloved Capitol Hill that’s been a long time coming.

Created by Greg Lundgren for #CapHillPSA

If you’ve been in Capitol Hill within the past few months, no doubt you’ve seen the #CapHillPSA poster series on telephone poles, assorted building exteriors, and various other elements strewn throughout the hill. Now, this series as a whole is obviously a result of the rapidly changing composition of the tenants of the hill, and most of these are largely innocuous. On the left, the beauty of this place shines through. “Be yourself & let your freak flag fly.” You’re weird, we get it, that’s why you’re here as yet another plaything on this blessed Island of Misfit Toys.

Created by Ken McCarty for #CapHIllPSA

Obviously, this rapid gentrification has a cost, part of which has been shown in the rapid increase in hate crimes on the hill. Let us address these claims through another poster. Excellent. It’s truly art in this writers opinion, serving the double purpose of starting a conversation about what’s causing this violence in addition to being a preventative reminder to future perpetrators — don’t be hatin’

But these aren’t the posters that everyone is talking about. They’ve become nothing but background noise to a certain series by the following artist:

Wait. What? “too many hard drives spoil the soup” Uhm. Okay, so this guy isn’t the biggest fan of the tech culture in Seattle, fair enough. It’s understandable that ever since Amazon moved into their South Lake Union campus from Pacific Tower, over on Beacon Hill that the neighborhood has changed. Surely the opening of their new building has resulted in a slew of “Luxury Housing” starting at $way-too-much a month. I’m still convinced that Sunset Electric is a cleverly disguised joke, it’s worse than my apodment in terms of cost per square foot. Also — Apodments are a whole other Pandora’s Box that I’ll save for later. Tech money is starting to hit Seattle hard, some are being priced out of this neighborhood that they grew strong roots in, the historically safe exclave of QUILTBAG culture. Now, after the closure of a video rental shop and record store, we’re stuck with too many places that sell $15 bowls of Mac & Cheese and $195/month crossfit memberships. Finally, there’s an artist who is not only seeing all the damage that these “Tech Bros” are causing, but doing something about it — he’s giving everyone who’s lived there a war cry to rally around. “Fuck those techies,” they’re obviously ruining the culture here with their expensive apartments and restaurants. They’re moving to Cap Hill because it’s trendy and pricing the true residents [artists & queers] out, and that’s obviously bad, right?

Now, look at that tweet again. Look at the date. April 5th, 2010. According to this article, that’s the same week that Amazon started moving into their new HQ in SLU. Also, in his interview with The Stranger published on Feb 27, 2015, he states “I’ve only lived in Seattle four and a half years.” Let’s be gentrifying techie bros for a moment and do some math. That quote puts him moving here around August, 2010. Uhm, something doesn’t add up. Taking that tweet out of context, for all I know he could have spilled some soup on his laptop, but in the larger scheme of his work it would imply that he has a deeply seated prejudice towards tech. Are you fucking kidding me? Maybe next time you spearhead a hate campaign that targets and misrepresents an entire group of people, you should clean up your web presence so pissed off members of that group don’t dig up your bigotry.

I call myself a part of that group, but your work has caused me to recently question my identity more so than I ever did growing up gay in the south. Because of your campaign, I always feel a need to qualify my answer to “What do you do?” with “Software, but I’m not one of them.

John Criscitello’s contribution to #CapHillPSA

Thanks for that, asshole. The sheer amount of hate mongering you’re promoting has driven me to write all of this, as you plead for the homophobes to leave Cap Hill, I’m pleading for you to stop encouraging hostility towards tech workers so flagrantly.

So, John, go fuck yourself and fuck your hostile, acrid discrimination.

Let’s start talking about facts. This man had his fucking car vandalized shortly around the same time the #CapHillPSA campaign rolled out in full force. Now, was it incited due to the poster about Cap Hill being “a family of misfits” or the one about “Stop The Violence?” Who knows, I wasn’t the one leaving a note on someone’s windshield reading, “Amazon go home.” Where are they even supposed to go home to? Beacon Hill? The eventual East Link Extension opening in 2023 actually wouldn’t make that a bad option, but considering they’re currently building up SLU to house thousands of new employees, that’s not happening.

Wait, were they actually talking about the tech worker? Oh, because the vandal lived here before the techie, the newcomer has to leave.

Licensed Tote Bag with another of John’s works on it.

You know what, Xenophobic Vandal? Fine. You see a series of posters around your neighborhood that push you over the edge to finally do something about it and commit a hate crime. Did you realize that Criscitello is an artist first and foremost, and that’s how he pays his bills? He said in his interview with The Stranger, “as an independent artist, it’s really uplifting to have substantial sales. It keeps the machine oiled.” He’s fucking selling tote bags with those same words that may have inspired you to ruin someone’s day. My thanks go out to you, vandal, for buying into Criscitello’s Xenophobia as easily as one buys into the hatred for that Urban Outfitters over on Broadway and Harrison.

Seattle has quite an amazing history with regards to their past and present industries. Isn’t there a place around here with that name? The Museum of History and Industry? Right. [Disclosure: I can’t remember if it’s owned by Jeff Bezos, who’s the CEO of Amazon, or that Paul Allen ex-microsoftie who owns so much of this city it’s easier to list what he doesn’t] So, let’s cover that place in a nutshell. Seattle was largely a port city until Boeing ruled throughout the 50s and 60s, then Microsoft dominated in the 80s and 90s, until Amazon became the new kid on the block in the 2000s.

Should Microsoft go home too? Should Bill Gates have just stayed back in New York and worked in Silicon Alley? He’s actually not from New York? Really? Oh, John Criscitello is the one from New York — it’s easy to get the reality of this situation confused. Bill Gates, who everyone knows is the founder of Microsoft, actually was born in and grew up in Seattle. I wonder what he’s done to contribute back to the local community? Hm. Nice foundation he’s got there building houses for people and funding education.

How about them Seahawks! 12th Man whoop whoop! They’re that sportsball team that made it to the superbowl the past two years, right? A uniting force amongst many Washington residents? A commonality of this wider-community that’s only here thanks to that ex-microsoftie Paul Allen and the techies love for the Sounders.

This isn’t a fair comparison on the surface, Criscitello is just an artist making a statement, and the other two are tech billionaires. Deeper down, what this shows is that there are residents interested in uniting the community, not tearing it apart. Let’s put the billions of dollars these guys have invested in the city aside for a moment.

Let’s throwback to 1988 in Capitol Hill and also in the next neighborhood over, the Central District. Sir Mix-A-Lot just released his first mixtape with a song titled, “Posse on Broadway.” #grittiness of SLU and Cap Hill goes here

You want the techies to leave? Fine. They’ll take CenturyLink with them. And the Experience Music Project. And MOHAI, the SLU Trolley, the First Hill Streetcar, that new Cap Hill Link station that’s opening in a year, the Seahawks, the Sounders, Allen’s plane exhibit in Everett, half of UW’s campus, and so on.

With your reaction to the gentrification of Capitol Hill, you’re seriously shitting where you eat, Criscitello. Why don’t you start trying to be inclusive of techie incomers, rather than taking your shitty attitude out on towards those who prefer employment that’s more left-brained?

Last time I checked, techies weren’t quite known for being bros. That whole “Bro-grammer” stereotype is largely a new invention.

Fuck You, Criscitello. Who the fuck are you to decided who’s “queer” and who’s “an artist.” Are you even aware that queer techies exist? Amazon is well aware, they had a fantastic free LGBT summer picnic last summer open to employees and their family and friends. You seem to ignore them just as you’re feeling you’re being ignored. How does it feel to be on the other side of things, the villain who’s ignoring the culture of a place?

No it’s okay they work in tech fuck them.

Well, Fuck. You.

Are you aware that techies are not fucking humanoid computers that you push their buttons and software comes out? It’s an art in itself. Are you that fucking close-minded and dense that you’re completely ignorant of the fact that the greater Seattle area has the largest video game culture in the western hemisphere?

So you’re a queer artist on cap hill fighting against tech bros? OH BECAUSE A TECH BRO CAN’T BE A QUEER ARTIST, OBVI. You’re not only ignorant of groups that you don’t claim to be a member of, but you’re currently showing ignorance towards a group you do claim to be a part of.

Who the fuck do you think created the latest version of Mario for the new Wii U system? A human push button machine? Uh, no, actually, it might have been your neighbor that rides into Redmond every day. A neighbor that might even be queer.

So John, I sincerely hope that you cut this bullshit hate campaign out and start making a positive impact on the community.

As a queer techie, I’ve been giving back to the community in so many ways. I’m currently working on a unpaid, personal project with the King County Department of Transportation’s internal data to determine more optimal bus routes. I’ve volunteered at a local food bank, I’ve taken care of foster dogs, and I’ve tutored local students in Math and Science. What have you done again? Incite an enraged schism that doesn’t really even need to fucking be there? Way to fucking go, dude. If you don’t like Cap Hill, get the fuck out. Seriously you’re the problem with the hill, not techies.